Yes, Sega, I am daring you to go 2D. Not on a handheld — you’ve done that very well already. I’m talking about going 2D on a console. By the looks of Sonic Rush and your Sonic Advance games, you still know how to make quality 2D Sonic games.
When it comes to many 3D titles, including Sega’s 3D Sonic games, it seems like developers use 3D “because they can” and its what is mainstream — not because it fits the game best. You need to listen to your fans and critics. I rarely hear anyone say that the 3D Sonic games were better than their 2D counterparts.
Now, look at the success of Viewtiful Joe — a franchise that came out of nowhere in this crowded video game market. Why did it succeed? Was it because it had ground-breaking gameplay? The gameplay was great, but it was nothing that was revolutionary. What made Viewtiful Joe so successful is that it stood out and was simple and fun — all because it was 2D.
2D works best for games like Viewtiful Joe and Sonic the Hedgehog because they thrive on the simplicity of 2D gameplay. When the controls and gameplay basics are simple, it allows both the developer and the gamer to benefit. The developer can spend less time on getting all those 3D camera bugs and other complex issues taken care and focus more on developing beautiful landscapes, amazing speed, and killer boss battles (monster-huge Robotnik!). The gamer does not have to learn a complex control scheme or all the little quirks of getting stuck in a 3D environment and focus more on quick response time and enjoying the actual game.
Viewtiful Joe enjoyed quite a buzz in the gaming community — not only leading up to the launch, but through the initial reviews, and via word-of-mouth as more and more gamers got their hands on the title. But why did a new beatemup get so much attention? Because it was different. It stood out. It was basically the only new, 2D action game on the market. It combined 2D gameplay with the capabilities of modern consoles.
Seth Godin’s Purple Cow is an insightful marketing book that discusses how a product can truly success if it stands out in a crowd of other products — just like a purple cow would stand out in a herd of cattle. Instead of the gaming community simply giving a few words of attention to your new Sonic game, they would be drawn to talking about it since it is a refreshing change to the gaming world. The 2D handheld Sonic games do not stand out as there are many other 2D platformers on the handheld.
If you bring 2D Sonic to a major console, utilize all the video and audio capabilities, and step up the gameplay and boss battles, you will have a game that WILL be talked about and purchased many times. Listen to the older Sonic fans that know what makes a good Sonic game. I’m sure many, including myself can tell you what features would make the game great.
Just take the chance, Sega. You won’t regret it.